If you’re breastfeeding, you know that eating well is vitally important. Plenty of nutrients get passed through your breastmilk to your baby, so eating a nutrient-rich diet means you’re passing on lots of good stuff to your little one, too.
There’s no blueprint for a “perfect” breastfeeding diet. The general recommendations are to take in an extra 300-500 calories per day to help fuel breastmilk production and provide nutritious breastmilk to your baby while still meeting your own calorie needs. Making sure you’re eating a well balanced diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein is the best advice for meeting you and your baby’s needs.
That being said, there’s definitely a few standout superfoods that go a long way in providing your baby with the most nutritious breastmilk possible! The specific nutrients in certain foods, plus a few vital vitamins and minerals in this list are essential to infant development and can easily be added to your diet.
These are the 4 superfoods breastfeeding Moms need:
Salmon is chock full of DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that plays a huge role in your baby’s developing nervous system. Even though there are plenty of plant-based sources of omega-3 (like flax or chia seeds), they don’t provide DHA, which is super beneficial to your baby’s visual acuity and brain development.
Salmon and other fatty fish are your best bet for getting lots of DHA, but there’s a catch. Fish is frequently a concern for pregnant and breastfeeding moms because of high mercury levels. That’s why I recommend wild-caught salmon. Unlike other fish high in DHA like swordfish or mackerel, salmon contains low mercury levels and is packed with the protein and DHA both you and your baby needs.
Try this recipe for Matcha & Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon
Not only are lentils a prime source of fiber and protein, they’re also high in minerals that are important for your baby’s development. Lentils are a great source of folic acid, which is crucial to your baby’s development in early pregnancy and as an infant. Lentils and other legumes are also great sources of iron. Your baby is born with enough iron stored to get through the first 6 months – but you may be iron deficient after pregnancy, so adding a food that’s rich in protein, folic acid, and iron is a win-win-win.
My suggestions for creating your own Buddha Bowls is nutritious and filling, and you can use the leftover cashew cream for this Butternut Squash Noodles with Lentils & Pistachios dish.
Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard are bursting with vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for your baby’s vision and bone growth, and since it’s a fat soluble vitamin, it’s accumulated and passed to the baby directly through breastmilk. Leafy greens are also rich in vitamin C and iron, which work together to increase iron absorption during digestion.
Try these tips for cooking with frozen kale.
Yogurt is not only full of protein, it’s also a great source of probiotics and calcium. Passing along healthy bacteria from your body through breastmilk can help strengthen your baby’s immune system. Probiotics help shape your gut bacteria to keep you and your baby’s immune system flourishing.
Getting enough calcium is essential during breastfeeding. Growing babies have increased needs for calcium, which is drawn from your bones. This means if you’re not getting enough calcium every single day, you risk weakening your own bones during breastfeeding to ensure baby gets hers. If you’re not eating heaps of yogurt (just be sure to be mindful of the amount of sugar it may contain) and other calcium-rich foods every day while breastfeeding, it’s smart to take a supplement.
Getting proper nutrition during breastfeeding is essential to the health of both you and your baby. Thankfully, with these superfoods (and a packet of Cal-EZ) on your side, you’re all set to give your baby exactly what she needs.